This past weekend gave us a collaboration that brought a classic song full circle. Brent Smith, who scored a massive hit with Shinedown covering Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” had a chance to team up with the song’s originators onstage in Nashville.
The collaboration took place Sunday (Nov. 13) during Lynyrd Skynyrd’s performance at the Ryman Auditorium, and singer Johnny Van Van had some kind words to say in introducing Smith. “This next guest, these guys, his band, they’re from Jacksonville, Florida, by the way — where Lynyrd Skynyrd’s from. And they did this song so great. When we were thinking about doing this show, I said, ‘Man, we’d love to have him.’ Y’all give it up for our good buddy… Y’all give it up for Mr. Smith from Shinedown.”
“Simple Man,” of course, has a long history with Shinedown since being included with the group’s debut album, Leave a Whisper. The cover hit No. 5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and has been certified as a platinum single for the band.
Despite it being a fan favorite, there was a period early on in Shinedown’s career where they had taken it out of their sets, until, as Smith told us in 2018, Godsmack vocalist Sully Erna had pulled him aside after catching a show and convincing him to reinstate it in the set. “Listen, far be it from me to tell you what to do with your career. But let me give you a little bit of advice, it’s not your song to hold onto,” Smith says Erna told him.
“He wasn’t talking about the fact that I didn’t write the song or anything. He was making a point about the audience loving the version that we do. You have to sing these [popular] songs and you have to sing that song. He was making the point about it’s not about the painter it’s about the painting and that stuck with me for a long time. The following night we put the song back in the set,” Smith recalled.
“Simple Man” also has an equally storied history with Lynyrd Skynyrd, also appearing on their debut album, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd). Though not initially released as a single off their debut album, it’s remained a staple of the band’s live shows and is currently their third best-selling digital song.
After having the moment to share the stage with the originators of one of Shinedown’s most beloved tracks, Smith stated via social media, “Still trying to process this moment… Thank you @skynyrd and @johnnyroyvanzant for allowing me to be a part of this extraordinary event!!!”
Watch fan-shot footage of the performance below.